If you are reading this blog, then you are likely a dark tourist. Those of us that frequent haunted locations and have a fascination with the darker side of our past are one reason dark tourism exists. While I know many of us are in it for the right reasons; understanding the past, learning about the nature of our existence, and expanding our knowledge of what may or may not happen after death. We must also recognize that there is a layer of exploitation that is occurring in many locations. There is profit in the haunted location and there are places where the dead are not treated with respect.
I have met a lot of wonderful location owners that take pride in cleaning up, preserving their location, and keeping the memory of the people who resided within alive. These owners are careful to explain the rules to the guests that enter the location and ask anyone who chooses to spend time with the history to show respect. I’ve also met owners and tour guides who do not show this same respect. They may use the most sensational gossip to spin a tale, create false stories, call the deceased by unpleasant descriptive names, repeat disrespectful actions to get a response from whatever is within the location, and choose to let the location continue to deteriorate despite the income that flows from these tourism activities.
It can be a tough pill to swallow that our continued search for answers allows this type of disrespect to occur. I don’t expect any of us to stop searching. Instead, I want people to recognize the part they play in this industry. When you choose to visit a location, be respectful. If you see someone doing something that feels wrong, say something. If we are interacting with the dead, then recognize that this is their afterlife and they didn’t ask to become circus monkeys for our entertainment. They are not required to respond to any of us or act in any certain way.
In addition, when you find owners or tour guides that are being disrespectful, inform the people you know so they can make an informed choice in whether or not to support these individuals. You can complain on their Facebook page but really, that doesn’t do much other than get you blocked. We are a community, so talk to each other and make it a standard that we all respect the places we visit. Expect the same respect of the people who get paid to allow us to visit. Our dollars communicate our desire to honor history and the deceased who reside within a location. If we make respectful choices, eventually the less than honest owners and tour guides will have to change course to get people to come back or they may just give up and a more compassionate owner or guide can take their place. At least we can hope this happens. Sadly, there will always be someone willing to step into the industry to make a quick buck off a sensational story. Be vigilant and do your best. We each have a part to play in this industry so choose wisely.
Until next time, Happy Hunting!